The state's budget mess has forced some not-for-profit social service agencies that rely heavily on state funding to close their doors, affecting thousands of Illinois' most vulnerable people, as well as leaving the employees who served them out of work.

But that's not the kind of fallout that Gov. Bruce Rauner chose to focus on last week.

Rather, he said, "Some of the departments don't even have enough paper to function."

After he made that comment, we asked his office to identify which state agencies have run or are running out of paper.

But, no one seems to know where the governor got that idea.

A Rauner spokeswoman said she'd check on the source of his comment, but we never heard anything back from her on the matter.

Other state constitutional officers said they weren't facing any such crisis.

At the paperwork-heavy Illinois Secretary of State's office, we received this response:

"We're OK for now," said spokesman Henry Haupt.

Similarly, Paris Ervin, a spokeswoman for Treasurer Mike Frerichs, also said they had nothing to report.

Soon after Rauner's statement about a paper shortage, Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti surprised some people in the crowd at last week's Republican Day rally at the Illinois State Fair when she claimed that Judy Baar Topinka, a Republican, was the state's first female comptroller.

Sanguinetti, a newcomer to statewide politics, apparently forgot about the late Dawn Clark Netsch, a Democrat who served in the post two decades ago.

Someone needs to get the Rauner administration a fact-checker ... once the budget mess is cleaned up.

The politics of disruption

Instead of casting the budget impasse as a mere fight between a new Republican governor and an entrenched Democratic powerbroker, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno is casting the battle along more techie terms.

Think of Rauner as Uber and House Speaker Michael Madigan as a taxi company. Think of Rauner as Airbnb and Madigan as a hotel.

"We do recognize that change causes disruption," Radogno said in comments to reporters last week.

In a separate interview, Rauner the Disrupter acknowledged his new mantle.

"Change is hard and we're locked in a titanic struggle," the governor said.

Of course, after just eight months in office, its not clear whether Rauner has the same industry-disrupting upside as Uber or Airbnb. For all we know, the governor could be a mere rowboat to Madigan's nuclear submarine.


Rauner on Madigan: "He's got ice water in his veins."

Separation of powers

During a speech to the Democratic County Chairmen's Association Thursday, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, offered up a quick lesson from his perch in the legislative branch of how our system of government is supposed to work.

"We are willing to work with Gov. Rauner, but we don't work for Gov. Rauner," Cullerton said.

New roof

Not everything is on hold in Springfield while Democrats and the governor try to figure out how to bridge their fundamental differences over unions and the budget.

On Wednesday, workers arrived at the Executive Mansion to begin repairing the leaky roof.

Rauner said the repairs could have come sooner. A rain storm the evening before had sent trickles of water rolling down the walls of the 1800s-era house.

The work is being paid for with donations.

Senate race

Four Democrats are vying for their party's nomination to take on U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk in 2016.

All four were in the capital city last week to participate in Democrat Day activities at the state fair.

Andrea Zopp, a former federal prosecutor and head of the Chicago Urban League, told reporters she was looking forward to her first visit to the fair in several years.

But, she warned, "I'm not eating any fried Snickers bars."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, meanwhile, poked fun at Kirk for missing Wednesday's Republican festivities.

Kirk campaign spokesman Kevin Artl said the senator didn't attend Gov. Bruce Rauner's special day at the state fair because he was being briefed on the Iran nuclear deal.

Said Duckworth: "I don't blame him because I don't want to be seen with the governor either."

Others vying for the Democratic nomination include state Sen. Napolean Harris of Chicago and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin.

Follow Kurt Erickson on Twitter @Illinois_Stage


Load comments